Friday, May 29, 2009

Remember - you read it here last ...

I am so eager to share this with you that I'm tapping away before the weekend.

These plaques dedicated to members of the mythical Devinish-Phibbs family have started appearing on park benches around the UK. I think they are magnificent.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Walk a mile

Before you criticise someone you should "walk a mile in their shoes".

That way - by the time they realise - you'll be a mile away. And - you'll have their shoes.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


The Lake Eyre Basin is a low lying drainage basin in inland Australia. Usually it holds a smattering of miserable brackish bodies of water - but every now and then rain from the wet season causes the basin to fill - creating Lake Eyre. This happened for the first time in 10 years in 2009, as usual an explosion of life followed.

One of the more surprising things is that flocks of pelicans fly there to breed - surprising because they come from the coast. How do they tell that rain has fallen and gathered so far away? Something to do with the Internet perhaps.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I believe that Twitter is utterly awash with arse gravy.

In the event that I am wrong about Twitter, and that you feel the need to sieve through it for something of interest - you should use NoisyRobin - .

Round and round.



Brave. Bonkers.

Bruce McCandless II took the first untethered space walk in February 1984. Here we see him from Challenger, floating above Earth.

Isn't that a fantastic photo? A bit eerie perhaps, the thought of slowly drifting away from the ship bugs me. Largely though, I think it's beautiful.

The photo has stirred up someone else though - the posting below is from the web page where the photo lies:

Posted by: Neil | 05/15/09 | 12:28 am

Every alleged space walk has been fake since the first by Ed White. The suits are impossible. Nickel porous plate ice sublimators are fabrications of an excellent imagination. The gloves, allegedly used by NASA for more than forty years, would be very useful in manipulating objects within vacuum chambers but unfortunately none are yet available. Because they don’t exist because they’re impossible. Everything associated with a spacewalk or moonwalk is fake. The International Space Station, Apollo moon missions, Gemini spacewalks and Hubble Telescope are entertaining diversions to fool Americans into overlooking that Israel loots the United States of $trillions in exchange for mere $millions of fake photos and video. With only 7.4 million people and a GDP of only $250billion, Israel has to steal the money from somebody for those 100 nukes, submarines and state of the art air force and army.


One of us - "Neil" or me - is quite a fool. You pick.

Friday, May 15, 2009


This lurid dragonfly turned up in the site I collect computer desktop pics from. It was on my computer most of yesterday, I was looking at it trying to work out what the patterns in the wing veins were about. I guess they help the wing pairs peel apart when they are working in a way I now know as "clap and fling". It's fantastic that the blind watchmaker has made something so intricate and perfect.

The dark spot at the wing tips puzzled me too - what could it be for? I imagine the insect can see the spot whirring around, but surely it must have other ways of knowing how its wings are oriented. Another thing that occured to me was that the spot might be used when slowly moving the wings in a mating display perhaps. The final thing I could think of was that they might be tiny weights, no idea why though.

Googling a bit found an academic paper on the mechanics of four winged flight. I'm sad enough to find this really quite quite interesting. Sooooo - I printed it out and read it on the train on the way home from work.

Most people will glance at what their train-neighbours are reading, while carefully trying to appear not to. The younger woman next to me was oafish enough to betray being a bit aghast that someone would be creepy enough to read about insects, erk. It's as if a swarm of the buggers might stream out from the offending printout. I'm old enough to not give a toss what she thought. Personally I would be warier of the lardy middle aged coke-bottle-bottomed glasses guy I saw the other day, completely unashamedly reading a magazine about handguns.

Aaaanyhoo - it turns out that the wing markers are weights - they are called pterostigma and are used for stopping the wing fluttering when gliding.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Crabby and bewildered villagers, resentful of a new technology party to which they somehow feel uninvited, chase a car out of town ...

... but have less success furiously waving rolled up copies of the Fin Times at a low flying plane:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Lizard King. New Wave Queen.

Neither was a *great* singer, but they were both very very pretty. Guaranteed coronation.

You know I'm getting really bored, cause all songs have the same damn chords ...

This may take some time.

So - you see the stripey layers in the mountain behind the one with the climber, and indeed into the distance. You will know from year 10 science, this tells us that the rocks were originally laid down under water, probably a sea bed - yonks ago. On a vast scale, they have been tumbled about and they find themselves at quite some height.

So long, so much time. Of no remark to many and no relevance to day to day life, this never ceases to amaze me.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Have a look at the transmission on this old bike:

See how it works? Might be clearer on this diagram:

You pedal forwards normally to use the high gear, and if needed pedalling backwards uses a much lower gear.
Quirky and simple French engineering.

A loose translation of the ad below is - "Different ways to get up hills: smiling, with retro-directe; sweating blood and tears, with a single speed; or on foot, pushing your bike!"